Sunday 28 December 2014

Ten young guns aiming to fire in the league

Published 30/01/2013 | 05:00

Tyrone's Ronan O'Neill

Colmkeys assesses the Prospects of those who can make a mark in the next 12 weeks of league action.

Ronan O'Neill (Tyrone)

The architect of Tyrone's last All-Ireland minor success in 2010, his goal against Mayo in the final was one of the most memorable at that level for some time. His career stalled last season when he suffered a cruciate injury but his imminent return is a source of some excitement in Tyrone. Comparisons with Peter Canavan are much too premature but he does possess some of the cutting edge that made Canavan such a great player.<

Daniel Flynn (Kildare)

Already thought to be on the radar of Tadhg Kennelly and his recruitment camp in DCU next month, Flynn underlined on Saturday night what an asset he will be, provided he is located at midfield or half-forward. His switch to midfield against Dublin gave him the freedom that his running game needed and he was going just as strong deep into extra-time.

Ryan McHugh (Donegal)

'younger-brother syndrome' is commonplace in the GAA, the hope that there is a sibling at home who might be even better than what has gone before him. Maybe this won't work out that way but Mark McHugh's younger brother has many similar traits.

In the absence of Mark and Karl Lacey through injury, expect exposure as a half-back for young McHugh in the games ahead. Just out of minor, he ticks a lot of boxes for what Jim McGuinness will be looking for and can provide decent cover for arguably Donegal's most critical line.

Jack McCaffrey (Dublin)

Take your pick – Costello, O Conghaile, Lowdnes. Dublin abound with talent but we've gone for McCaffrey, who looks to have the maturity and poise to make a quick impact at senior level now that he has his feet under the table. Dublin's half-back line is a competitive place but there is so much to McCaffrey's game and, with the benefit of squad exposure last year, the 2011 minor star is primed for the next step.

Evan Regan (Mayo)

Mayo's full-forward line is fertile ground, especially in the corners. It's tempting to suggest that Conor O'Shea, younger and quicker than either of his brothers Seamie and Aidan, can graduate in the months ahead. But Regan may just be ahead of him. A compact left-footed kicker who is naturally a No 13, the Ballina man is currently injured, having had injury troubles in 2012 too. However, a year older, he may well be ready to take flight.

Damien Cahalane (Cork)

Cahalane's decision to exclusively focus on football with Cork this year marks him down as one worth watching. A Munster U-21 medal winner, he was an inspiring figure in Castlehaven's Cork championship success last year, commanding from centre-back. If Conor Counihan's side need cover and maybe even alteration anywhere it's across the half-back line, though, Cahalane would be equally at home in the full-back line.

Shane Walsh (Galway)

It's a measure of rare talent when a footballer can kick a free off the ground comfortably with either foot. Walsh is in that exclusive club. Identified as potentially Galway's most talented forward to emerge since Michael Meehan, the former St Jarlath's Galway minor star dipped his toes into inter-county football during the recent FBD league. He's a gifted two-footed forward, sometimes with too much of an individual streak but that's something for Alan Mulholland to work on.

Keith Quinn (Down)

Took himself off to America after brief exposure to the senior team but the Mayobridge man now looks well placed for a more sustained run. He passes well, carries well and should be an addition to a Down half-back line that has needed an overhaul.

Jack Sherwood (Kerry)

Hard to see any of the usual suspects being dislodged from attack when it gets to the business end of things but over the next few weeks Sherwood could make headway across the half-back line by building on the form he has shown as an U-21.

Gary McCooey (Armagh)

Much talk of young Ciaran O'Hanlon but Cullyhanna's McCooey could be more advanced to make progress as a free-scoring half-back if Armagh's Division 2 campaign catches flight in the absence of the Crossmaglen players.

Irish Independent

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